Abuja Centenary City project: Senate wades in

The Senate, Tuesday, initiated moves to see to the resuscitation and completion of the abandoned Abuja Centenary Economic City project located along Airport Road in the Federal Capital Territory.

Sequel to a motion moved by Senator Ashiru Oyelola (Kwara South) the lawmakers passed a resolution urging the Federal government to prioritise the revival of the project by providing appropriate support, resolving regulatory issues, and addressing any other impediments, given its beneficial potential to the economy and people of Nigeria after 10 years of stalled progress. 

In his lead debate, the Deputy Senate Leader informed the Senate that the project is likened to model smart cities like Dubai, Monaco and Singapore and was launched to mark the 100th anniversary of Nigeria on January 1, 2014.

According to him, as of 2014, the original estimated investment for the Abuja Centenary Economic City project was 18.5 billion US Dollars which is equivalent to the size of Nigeria’s national budget at today’s exchange rate. 

The project Ashiru explained was meant to serve as a potential economic hub, with plans to create over 150,000 construction jobs, 250,000 permanent well-paying jobs, residential accommodation for over 200,000 residents, and facilities to attract over 500,000 daily visitors, among others.

He said: “The Abuja Centenary City was designated as a free trade zone under the regulatory oversight of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), without prejudice to other statutory agencies like the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Abuja Investment Company (AIC) and Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre (AIC).

“That significant progress has been made on the similarly ambitious $6 billion Eko Atlantic City development project in Lagos. A 25-km land reclamation project with varied completed residential towers, an 8-lane boulevard, marinas, water treatment facilities, and power infrastructure among others.

“The Abuja Centenary City project has stalled for almost ten years since its commencement, with developmental estimates of less than 7% of road construction and other critical infrastructure as judged by the report of the independent investigation assessment. 

“(November 2023). This falls drastically short of expectations and the original vision of the project’s conception; Ashiru also raised concerns about the ambiguity in regulatory and implementation issues between the concerned stakeholders leading to neglect of the project’s design blueprint.”    

He added that completion of the project will have immense benefits for Nigeria including job creation, elevating Nigeria’s profile as an attractive destination for foreign investment, tourism and events, and overall national development.

In his contribution, Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) asked his colleagues to support the motion, saying, apart from its economic benefits, the completion of the project will be among the legacies of the 10th Senate.

He said; “If there is significant progress in that Project anybody that sees it will remember the 10th Senate. In Egypt, we have the construction of a new city called the “New Cairo” where we have shopping malls, Police stations, among others.

“Now it has been completed with a New National Assembly complex, Chinese City and the city of Cairo is connected with a speed train and it started 10 years ago. That means the cetermary city should have been concluded by now.”

President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, supported the motion, lamenting that the city of Abuja is already getting congested. 

“It’s such a fantastic city and Abuja is already getting congested and we must get it serious. I remember it is private sector driven and the Federal government has no hand in it,” Akpabio added.

The Senate, amongst its resolutions, mandated its commitee on FCT to urgently investigate the factors impeding the completion of the Project.

The Senate also tasked the committee to review the original public-private partnership agreement and recommend amendments, if necessary, to facilitate smooth and expeditious completion of the project within a defined timeframe.